Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria
We must act now to stop malaria in its tracks
Funding for malaria treatments and prevention has plateaued. This means that millions of lives and decades of investments are at risk. Today, half the world is still threatened by this preventable, treatable disease. Malaria continues to take a child’s life every two minutes, and is a major cause of global poverty, hampering economic growth in malaria affected countries.
2018 needs to be a momentous year in the global fight against malaria. We must ensure a renewed attention and commitment to ending malaria for good – from the highest political level down to local communities where the everyday fight against the disease is being fought. We need the most those who will show leadership, put up new resources and lend their talent, their money or their knowledge, to reducing cases and deaths today: while we innovate for tomorrow.
If we don’t seize the moment, our hard-won gains will be lost
Now is the moment to accelerate progress towards ending history’s oldest and deadliest killer. With renewed focus and commitment, we can reduce deaths and cases of the disease.
Regina Rabinovich, MD, President of American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Innovation is key in the fight against malaria, but human capital is required
Over the past two decades, progress in malaria has resulted from the new funding that made introduction and scale of innovations possible. Tools that today are the mainstay of malaria treatment and prevention – namely bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests and artemisinin combination treatment – were not available in 2000.
Similarly, within a decade we will likely be using new tools that will improve our ability to overcome drug and insecticide resistance as these emerge. A vaccine that interrupts transmission of the parasite and better ways to combine these in a “toolbox” to achieve elimination when used broadly in the community.
Innovation has been key to progress in polio and smallpox global eradication programmes. Given the complexity of the parasite and mosquito that transmit malaria, innovation will be essential to achieve global malaria goals. Innovation encompasses classical research, product development, and new ways of combining interventions and using a variety of tools to measure the results in order to optimise the programme. Innovation means that several critical ingredients have to be available: good science, industry partners to develop and manufacture products, adequate funding and experts from diverse fields.
A key element in the fight against malaria, is the human capital required. The malaria eradication program in the 1950s, falsely convinced young scientists that the problem had been largely solved. But today we understand that engaging the next generation of scientists – and new areas of science – will be critical to advance the feasibility of elimination in the hardest hit countries.